The Agenda

Tampa Bay Tribune profiles openly gay commissioner Kevin Beckner

The Tampa Bay Tribune featured a profile on newly sworn-in Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner. The article, published yesterday, discusses both Beckner’s personal coming out story and the way he ran his successful campaign.

The paper writes:

A 37-year-old Democrat, Beckner beat Republican incumbent Brian Blair for the countywide seat by more than 40,000 votes. It was a stunning victory, the first over an incumbent commissioner in more than a decade. It was all the more remarkable because Beckner became the first openly gay commissioner.

Some local observers said Beckner ran a tougher, smarter campaign than Blair, employing 400 volunteers and raising nearly $200,000 for signs and direct-mail advertising.

People close to Beckner credited his ability to connect with voters on a personal level.

“He made himself available to the public, and I think people were hungry for that accessibility,” said Mark Nash, Beckner’s campaign field director.

Ginnie Carlson, one of Beckner’s earliest campaign workers, said she was impressed on first meeting him, but expected that initial aura to fade with familiarity.

“Every cause and every hero has feet of clay, but he kept impressing me more and more,” Carlson said. “He always did a lot of research, and he did listen to what other people were saying and cared what their viewpoints were.”